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Should Employers Have Let Employees Out Earlier?

by ARLnow.com January 27, 2011 at 12:30 pm 4,898 89 Comments

Talk to Virginia State Police, and part of the reason yesterday devolved into absolute gridlock has to do with everybody hitting the road at one time.

With the federal government getting out only two hours early, the roadways were already jammed with traffic as heavy snow started to fall around 4:00 p.m.

“Instead of having a staggered rush hour, like you typically do, you had everybody leaving at the same time… right as the storm hit,” said state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller. “Roads started deteriorating rapidly, and the vehicles started sliding into one another.”

Then, as gridlock set in, a new problem cropped up.

“The greatest challenge for clearing the interstates Wednesday evening in Northern Virginia was the sheer volume of abandoned vehicles,” Geller said. “Motorists were simply walking away from their vehicles – many of them being left still in the travel lane.”

Dominion Power, VDOT and Arlington County have all said that their efforts to restore power and clear streets were hampered by traffic and abandoned vehicles. In other words, if there were fewer vehicles on the streets, the streets would have been cleared earlier and not as many of the 16,700 Dominion customers without power last night would have been in the dark.

So should employers, including the federal and county governments, have let employees out earlier, given the early predictions of heavy snow around rush hour?

One Arlington County employee wrote to tell us that keeping county offices open until 5:00 placed county employees “in life threatening conditions.”

I think the decision by County officials to keep employees at work until 5 p.m. should be seriously questioned. Our department sent most of our out of county employees home early, but a core of Arlington residents remained. By the time the County closed its offices those employees were placed in life threatening conditions.

The storm was not a surprise. I can understand not closing early on a forecast alone. But once “whiteout conditions” are verified in Sterling and heading our way, employee safety should take precedence over previously announced plans.

Some of our employees required 7 hours to get home IN THE SAME COUNTY. Many are single women without somebody to assist them in an emergency.

The County manager is very lucky that today’s headlines did not feature employee deaths. It was a very bad decision to ignore facts on the ground for the sake of public relations. After 4:00 almost no citizens even ventured into the County building anyway. And employees were forced to sit and watch their situation become more and more desperate.

Flickr pool photo (top) by BrianMKA.

  • Andrew

    I left work about 3:30 yesterday afternoon, orange line to VA SQ from Smithsonian. Was not very crowded. The Federal Building I left was still pretty full. I don’t think most people left early even if they could, which probably didn’t help.

    I’m not sure anyone could have known it would have gotten this bad. 10 hours on 66 or GW parkway? Who would have ever expected that?

    • Susan

      Everyone knew it was going to be that bad, they had been saying it on the weather all day, and the night before! It was a winter storm warning, not to mention thundersnow1 That should have told them something!

      • Andrew

        We knew we would get heavy snow. We knew it would range from 4-8 or even 10 inches. You cannot predict people abandoning cars and people getting stuck going up hills.

        • cj

          Actually, based on past experience with heavy wet snow hereabouts, you can predict exactly that.

    • NPGMBR

      The problem here is that meteorologists often get it wrong. We’ve become accustomed to snow events being non-events and a lot of people I talked to stated that they didn’t think there would be any snow.

      Second guessing the actions of OPM and local governments accomplishes nothing because the true problem is forecasting. However, what could have been done differently is to let workers go at staggered intervals. Then again is that really fair to those that live close in?

      I live in Arlington and work in Foggy Bottom and I’m always in on bad weather days because I have a relatively easy commute yet the folks that live outside the beltway often take off on bad weather days or end up coming in late.

  • South Arlington

    I don’t see what the employees being “single women” has anything to with it. What a bizarre thing to say.

    • OX4

      Single women are helpless. Didn’t you know that?

    • Susan

      Amen to that! I’ve seen more than my share of helpless men!

      • Dog Lover

        And that would be why I had to get out the car last night and help a man get his car off the median strip….and I’m a single woman…yep, I’m just helpless…

    • FedUp

      Did I miss something? Are single women a protected class?

  • Chris

    The emailer you quote might be a bit extreme (the rhetoric of “life-threatening” and “employee deaths” is a bit over-the-top), but the point is well-taken. It was no surprise that the snow was coming at rush hour, and that it was going to be a wet, sloppy snow. What are all those people doing on the road at that time? While Andrew is right – who could have predicted just how bad it was going to be? – we knew it was going to be a mess, and better to get out of the way of a coming storm than to (literally!) drive right into it at rush hour.

    Employers – from the Feds to the County to private employers – should have let their employees go earlier.

    • Susan

      So you don’t think trees falling and cars skidding out of control could be life threatening???? Hmmm…..

  • Employee

    If employee’s really wanted to go home because they felt they were in danger, then they should have.
    People can always use person time, or vacation time to go home. If anyone asked to leave early, and their request was denied, then I feel bad for those people. Most people around here could have left, they chose not to. Poor choice…

    I also chose not to leave early, knowing that I live only a few minutes from my work-

    People need to stop blaming their employers for everything!

    • Radar

      Same here. Most of my co-workers chose not to leave early, so they were caught in rush hour. Hopefully next time they will leave 2 hours early so that they can be home by the time the storm starts.

  • Ann

    Yes we should have been let out early-perhaps at noon.

    The metro trains at 3pm were packed and were coming nearly ever 20 minutes due to some outage in Courthouse. By the time I picked the kid up at daycare we were in white out conditions. We were very lucky to get home by 5.

  • Susan

    This was a totally inexcusable situation, and could have so easily been avoided, had people been sent home in a timely fashion BEFORE the snow started! The timeline was clear, and everything concerned with the snow was on track, so it’s not like they didn’t know. And the county didn’t have to act like mindless sheep, and wait for the feds to act, they could have taken the high road, and sent people home earlier, in the interest of employee safety. But as always, that didn’t figure in!

    • NPGMBR

      So what would your response had been if they let people go earlier as you stated and this turned out to be an all rain event? Keep in mind that meteorologists have a hard time predicting snow patterns and have forecasted three snow events this year that turned out to be duds!

      • Susan

        My response would be the classic, better safe than sorry. There was barely a miniscule chance that it would be a rain only event, and so what if it was? That would sure have been better than what DID happen!!!

        • Westover

          You are talking MILLIONS of dollars in productivity, that is MILLIONS of TAXPAYER DOLLARS. OPM SHOULD be very careful with when they do large scale dismissals like this. THe County might only be talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it is still a lot, and it is still tax payers’ money.

          • Courthouse Res

            That is assuming that every federal employee is working and working hard. As a federal govt employee, I can tell you that is sadly not the case. First of all, you have to take all the people already on leave into account. They’re not working as it is and then all the lazy govt employees who just sit there and collect their paychecks. Lastly, the ones who don’t have any work to do for varying reasons. So closing two hours or even four hours early does not waste that much money.

  • Excuses

    Susan, use your time off.

    Also, when Federal employees are granted 2 hours early dismissal…it’s meant that you leave two hours earlier than your scheduled time. Not everyone should have rushed for the exit the second OPM updated the website or an email went out. If you get it at 7 and usually work until 330, you leave at 130.

    Metro is also extremely crowded for any event and during rush hour. Why would you expect it to be any different?

    Take Personal Time Off. All Federal employees could do that for the most part (Liberal Leave, meaning bosses cannot force you to stay). The problme is you wanted to look out the window, not do any additional critical work, and then make blog blasts on the posts when you should have left early.

    As “Employee” said above. I only feel for people who really had no choice to leave early.

    • AllenB

      I have to defend Susan… if she took time off yesterday, what would she complain about today?

      • NPGMBR

        ROLF – That comment just made my day!

      • Susan

        ooh! Nothing intelligent to say, so we have to criticize what someone else says!

    • Susan

      County employees are not Federal employees, and things don’t work the same way. There are many aspects of the county govt. that could have easily been closed at 1:00, no harm done, places that are not critical to the nation’s defense, or medical facilities.

      • Excuses

        County/Federal/Private…it shouldn’t matter. How was I supposed to know you were County? I just went off 2 hour early dismissal from a Federal standpoint.

        AllenB…why is she complaining about today? I thought her complaints were in regards to yesterday’s evening commute? That’s what the title of this article is all about.

        Susan, I’m quite intelligent and yes I like to criticize.

  • ClarendonKing

    Worked from home, today too. Private sector ain’t so bad.

  • SnowDay

    Just another reason for Telework. My agency, or at least my particular boss, is behind it. Most of us never left the house yesterday. We were productive then, and we’re productive today since we don’t need the two hours of admin leave to get into the office.

    And yes, employers should have let out early. My wife’s employer has never had a snow day and considers it an issue of work ethic if people bail. What ever happened to the mutual respect? The employer wants their time, and I’m fine with that. But if it’s going to take 8 hours to get home because they want me there all day, that’s not going to work. Issue laptops, set up a VPN, and strike a compromise.

    That’s the real issue. There’s no mutual respect at some organizations.

  • FedUp

    If the County had closed at noon, commenters on this blog would have complained that the County is wasting taxpayers’ money, they would have blamed Chris Zimmerman, they would have found fault with the County Manager. I believe that under the circumstances, the County Manager made a decision as best she could. “Employee” is right: people who wanted to leave before 3pm should have asked to leave. I am sure that their bosses would have let them.

    • Jezebel

      Yes, spot on.

      But let’s face it, this and most other blogs don’t attract the brightest or sanest commentators. An open mind and critical thinking are in short supply and rarely manifest themselves when one has the ability to post anonymous rants. Blogs like this are the perfect realization of the info-tainment industry.

      • Katie

        +1

    • AllenB

      +1 I sent my entire group home at noon yesterday to telecommute the rest of the day. It’s called initiative and planning. Some people should try it.

      • Ballston

        Yes that was a good call and I applaud you being proactive.

        Unfortunately, yesterday was a combination of poor timing of the storms arrival, lack of clarity of what the storm would bring and many people not taking the storm serious enough to give themselvs ample time to get home.

        If people had taken the initiative themselves to leave work at 3 rather than 4, they would have had much better luck.

        Some people though, by nature of their jobs, cannot leave early due to a multitude of reasons.

        We need more employers being proactive on early dismissals. We could also do without the attitude from some employers that leaving early for weather related purposes gets looked down upon. That fear-mongering culture essentially pressures employees into NOT leaving, even if their instinct says they should.

    • Banksy

      +1,000

      This area has more than its fair share of “OMG snowstorm!” false alarms. While meteorologists knew there was a storm coming, I don’t think they could have predicted exactly when it would hit and just how intense it would be. Or even how heavy weight-wise this snow would be. I walked from Rosslyn to Courthouse, and I still didn’t realize how heavy the snow was until I saw (and heard) falling branches in my neighborhood. The weight of the snow and wind caused trees to fall across GW Parkway. The impassability of just one major artery like that was bound to have a domino effect, causing traffic nightmares elsewhere.

    • NPGMBR

      I agree with you 100%.

  • Just an employee

    While proactive action might have made some sense, I can understand why officials would not have wanted to rely on often faulty forecasts.

    But once things began to go downhill very fast around 4, holding onto employees for an hour while things got far worse made no sense. It should not take an act of Congress to react to real life situations. That is like scheduling a committee meeting to discuss an approaching tornado.

    • Juanita de Talmas

      holding onto employees for an hour while

      Who did this? Workers are not slaves. If you need to go, GO.

  • Jim

    I wish my foresight were as brilliant as the 20/20 hindsight displayed by many commenters.

    • AllenB

      We wish it was, too.

    • jan

      hindsight is briliant. The officials can’t win.

  • Bender

    **who could have predicted just how bad it was going to be?**

    Actually, one should assume that it is going to be bad. Please refer me to those times when our ever-increasingly incompetent government has not caused a CF and made things worse?

    Government is not the solution. Government is the problem. Do NOT depend upon it for anything.

    • Westover

      Please, you depend on your standard of living in this area due to the government.

      This was a screw up of local government, they did not deploy plows as they should have. It was a screw up of employeers, government and non-government, for releaseing their employees too early. This was a screw up of meterologist who 36 hours before were calling for temps in the 40’s yesterday.

    • Banksy

      Sooo…no roads, snail mail, Social Security, and Medicare for you, eh? Tell me, if you’re the victim of a crime, are you going to solve it yourself or hire a private detective to solve it for you?

      • Andrew

        I rarely get anything useful in the mail and will be shocked to receive Social Security or Medicare when I retire. Roads, yes, I like roads.

  • John Andre

    Keeping offices open when there’s ANY threat of hazardous weather is a joke! Nowadays we have teleworking at home, something we did not have before I retired a few years ago. There ought to be anticipatory closures in situations such as yesterday’s. There was such a closure when the remnants of Hurricane Isabel threatened us a few years ago.

    The problem??? Too darned much concern with the supposed “costs” of shutting down offices! This relates to the rather overblown concern with deficits and the national debt. My prediction: Some day the conservatives will get their way on this illusory deficit-reduction issue. We’ll cut spending dramatically–then react with surprise when the resulting humongous ECONOMIC DEPRESSION hits us. It will make the Great Depression look like small change by comparison! It is probably better to keep the economy going in a normal fashion, then the national debt issue will solve itself. Back when I was studying high-school civics during the 1960’s we were being treated to frightening graphs of the “spiraling” national debt [then in the hundreds of billions of dollars due largely to World War II spending]. In the ensuing fifty-odd years no great national catastrophe ensued, and I doubt whether any such catastrophe will happen during the next half-century–unless we start worrying and obsessing over our “burgeoning” national debt.

    Historically great economic crises develop because of some major mistake made by big players in the private sector so avidly worshipped by economic and social conservatives–it is my opinion that this pattern will continue for the forseeable future.

    • Ballston

      John Andre:
      the “illusory deficit-reduction issue” is no joke.

      There is a reason why interest rates are up almost a full 1.00% on the governments debt in the past 3 months. Its because spending is out of control and congress has no balls to increase taxes. Cant have your cake and eat it too when the country is aging and health care costs are soaring, you cant just print money and pass the baton, thats called a PONZI SCHEME!!!

    • he he

      John: That’s the same line of thinking about single family house values: look everyone prices have not gone down in 50 years! I bet it will be the same for the next 50 years…I think we know how that turned out.

  • Curious462

    Here’s a thought…if the county didn’t think the road conditions were serious enough to let their employees out before 5, I question the (same) county’s readiness to treat/plow the roads at that time. How seriously were they taking this storm?

    • John Fontain

      Maybe they didn’t want the county employees out clogging up the streets with traffic before the plows had had a chance to remove the snow that hadn’t fallen yet.

  • ArlBlueSky

    Too many rear wheel drive German cars.
    Too many hills.

    Which should we ban?

    • Westover

      No ban needed, but any of those German Cars that were out without snow rated tires yesterday and had to be abandoned in the roadway should get a ticket for improper equipment along with A-Plus’ tow bill.

  • Tracy Kellum

    I work for Arlington County, in the Office of Communications, and I’d like to respond to the concerns posted about employee safety.

    At 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, we sent a message to all employees saying that while the County would remain open until 5 p.m., “Employees who need to leave before their regular time may telework or take unscheduled leave, with supervisor approval.” The message was sent via our Employee Alert system (which goes via text message to mobile devices, phones, and work & personal email) as well as through our Employee Update email, which goes to all County email addresses.

    Safety for our employees and our residents is a top priority in any emergency, weather-related or not. Any employee who feels his or her personal safety is endangered should bring it up with their supervisor immediately.

    As a service organization, we cannot simply dismiss all of our employees, although they are encouraged to speak with their supervisors and arrange to leave early if necessary, for personal safety and or family/child care reasons.

    Even during last year’s Snowmageddon, when the County was closed for four days, many of our employees worked literally around the clock — not just plow drivers and folks who deal with clearing streets, but water plant workers, facilities engineers, communications staff, IT staff and of course public safety employees (among others).

    • othersideoftheriver

      Thanks, Tracy.

    • Daniel

      Good post…about time we employees take some of the blame. A couple of my co-workers left at lunch and finished working from home in order to avoid the snow. No employer will make anyone stay if you ask to leave early due to potential weather and safety.

  • cliff s.

    What obviously is happening is that in today’s bad economy and budget crunch, government leaders – federal, state and local – are afraid to play it safe and send people home. If government leaders put safety first conservatively, everyone will say, yep, look at those lazy government workers taking off again. So government leaders are pushing the envelope.

    This is especially tricky for parents because schools don’t push the envelope – kids safety and all – so there are going to be many more days in the future when schools are closed but the government is not.

    And given global warming and the predicted increased intensity of storms, this is going to happen more and more.

    • he he

      AND given the great spagatti monster promised us all purple lollypops and really sweet big wheels next week the the mail, I’m counting on it.

      (note: that’s sarcasm directed toward your lines of reasoning)

      • cliff s.

        thanks for the note because otherwise, wtf?

        • Andrew

          There is no more global warming…it is now called climate change.

  • Stephanie

    I think at some point, you take responsibility for yourself, and make your own calls. I have been at work during horrible weather conditions with employers (private companies, not federal), unwilling to close. One time this caused to me to get into an accident on my commute home. After that, I said never again will I put my own life at risk for a desk job. So go with your gut, and if your employer frowns upon it, I say better safe than sorry.

    • Just an employee

      Stephanie is right, but the County should not have put people in that kind of situation once the severity of things was apparent. I am a middle aged person without young children. I was pretty shaken up making my way home, but I can take care of myself and nobody at home was utterly dependent on me.

      There was a young single mother in our office. What was she to do? “Take responsibility” and endanger her job by insisting on leaving early? Or take her chances getting home an hour after it was obviously prudent to leave?

      Forcing her to make that kind of choice simply was not necessary.

      • John Fontain

        How is she endangering her job? The county sent out an email saying people could leave early – just take an hour of leave. How is that forcing her to endander her job? Sounds like some cheap employees didn’t want to lose an hour of leave, so they put themselves in danger by staying at work and going home only after the weather got really bad.

      • Stephanie

        I agree that the county should have closed sooner than 5 pm yesterday. There is no amount of production or dollars wasted that can defend risking life. If I was in human resources, this is seriously something I would emphasize. With that said, I do still think people should have used the offered leave, even if they got dirty looks. I would rather be alive for my kids than get fired (seems unlikely) over leaving early in bad weather. I think this is starting to sound dramatic, so I will stop 🙂

  • notahoo

    Stepanie: Not really sure that reasonable, thoughtful comments have a place around here today. Shame on you ! 😉

  • LB

    Most places in DC let out around 3:00, which was plenty of time for most people to get home. A two hour early release from the Fed was spot on. For someone who lives farther away or regularly has a complicated commute, it’s their responsibility to either leave earlier if they believed the snow hype, or ride out the consequences of poor weather and living far away.

    To my knowledge only one fatality is recorded. Yes, taking 5 hours to go 20 miles is awful, but it’s not the end of the world.

    My usual 35 minutes commute (bus and metro) from DC to Arlington took me about an hour yesterday. It was crowded and slow, but not a big deal. If my commute was normally an hour and I knew snow was forcasted I would have tried to leave earlier.

    I know everyone doesn’t have this flexibility (of living close or leaving early), but as someone else said, most of us do. Employers and the government can’t cater to the lowest common denominator.

    • Excuses

      I like the “Common Denominator” reference. This whole thing to me seems like 80/20 rule. 20% of people are complaining about a circumstance that they likely had an option to make a better choice with (looking back at the situation), but instead want to throw it back on someone else. Chances are they could have taken leave, but thought they would not suffer any major problems without cutting out early and they could keep their leave. It’s always “what about me” or “it’s not fair.”

  • big foot

    Man, I love dealing with adverse weather. Stayed at work as long as I needed to despite early release, got off the subway at pentagon city at about 6:30 and gave up on the 16 bus half an hour later after it was clear it wasn’t coming. Had fun jogging four miles home along the Pike and seeing all the metro buses piled up along the side and cars spinning their wheels. Wouldn’t winter be boring and gray without some snowmaggedon adventures we can all remember?

  • JamesE

    That photo of the BMW cracks me up. Attempting to drive a RWD car in the snow is insane, that person probably didn’t even know it was RWD until it was too late.

    • Greg

      Bet they still don’t know.

    • ArlBlueSky

      Likely with summer tires.

      • JamesE

        Most certainly, and I say this as someone who has a rwd car with summer tires, I just don’t drive it in the snow.

  • nemesis

    I was in a similar situation as Big Foot. I left work in DC at 6:30 and ended up at the Pentagon City Station. A 16 bus finally showed up around 8, I had a ride on the way to get me. The bus was still sitting there when I got picked up 8:20. Since metro bus service ceased at 9, I wonder if that bus ever even went anywhere.

    My workplace did 2 hour early release (announced it right after the gov) and frankly, I live close to work, I don’t have kids to pick up, nothing like that, and I knew my commute would be terrible, but I felt like I couldn’t leave because I didn’t have any obligations other than getting home. I ended up staying late, thinking I could avoid some of the rush hour crush.

    An earlier commenter said that if people feel they need to leave, they should leave. I don’t think I could have left without a lot of dirty looks form management because I left early for “no reason.” I bet there are others who feel the same.

  • Dog Lover

    OMG! It’s one day out of our lives! Get over it already! Suck it up and when you see it’s snowing outside and the newscasts are showing the horrible traffic, either stay where you are and ride it out or sit in traffic.

    Either way it’s a bummer; but the traffic yesterday was no more life-threatening than a normal rush hour with people driving 80 miles an hour and weaving in and out of lanes. This time, you could only go feet per hour – so even with the skidding, slipping, getting out of control, it was more an annoyance than life-threatening.

    And it’s only one day out of your life…

  • Helpless Male

    Hey Doglover, I don’t think he was helpless, he was just trying to get your attention (maybe pick you up). How else are we to get a date these days :|)

    • Dog Lover

      That’s funny!

  • JimPB

    Private sector employees and citizens can be and are quite rightfully upset when their tax dollars pay government employees for time off that non-government folks don’t get.

    Government and businesses, to the make maximum extent consistent with maintaining essential operations, should let employees telecommute or take annual leave when bad weather is predicted. The responsibility would then be on employees to decide whether to telecommute or leave early or not come in at all in order to avoid commuting snarls OR grin and bear the commute.

    I recall the government shutdown. Businesses that served lots of government employees suffered a grevious loss of income that could not be recovered. But government employees were paid in full for their time off with the tax dollars of the business people and others. Not right. The rule should be: No work, no pay.

  • Juanita de Talmas

    Take responsibility for your own actions. If you live way the f**k out there and know it will take you forever, leave early. If you walk to work, decide if it is worth the hit to your workload. Government or Private, leave when YOU think you should leave. If your employer would fire you for taking the initiative and doing what is best for YOU, then they are assholes and you shouldn’t be making money for them to begin with.

  • Todd

    My wife left her job in Tyson’s at 3:30PM and didn’t get home until 12:15AM. Between the road conditions, downed trees, volume, abandoned cars, etc. it was a mess with many contributing factors. Employers should have let out earlier, VDOT should have been better prepared, etc.

    • Dog Lover

      And she could have stayed where she was and not had to deal with it. Unless people get a clue that VDOT and the Counties can’t do anything when your car is in the way, then we all get what we deserve. Stay off the roads unless it’s absolutely necessary. Just wanting to be home isn’t a critical need.

    • NomNom

      I dont see how VDOT could have been to blame for this. My trip home at 4pm (395 and Columbia Pike) was a parking lot. That being said, I agree with Dog Lover, because there is nothing VDOT can do with cars in the way at stand still. Fortunately I know back roads and got home in a timely fashion. I took King Street to Walter Reed north, and there was no traffic going my direction. The way this blog has been rolling, you wouldnt believe what happened – I actually had a VDOT snow plow salting the way.

      The point is people need to take responsibility and plan ahead instead of reacting once it is too late. It doesnt take foresite; it takes planning. Know what you need to do in an emergency.

      My final point: If you have a two wheel drive car, whether German or American, rear wheel drive or front, do not drive in the snow. I stay off the road as much as I can with my all wheel drive SUV, one because i know all wheel drive doesnt always help, and two, nothing will stop a 2 or 4 wheel drive car from sliding into me.

  • Wife

    DogLover – My employer does not offer overnight accommodations, where exactly would you have liked me to stay?

    • JIMb

      If the commute looks bad and it’s not essential that you get home, stay at work and do what would airplane passengers do when they are at the terminal and their flights are long delayed or cancelled. Make do with what’s at hand. A jacket can be folded into a pillow. A coat can cover one like a blanket. A carpet offers a bit of cushioning for sleeping, and there are chairs. Many of us have gone to sleep in a chair. I don’t know of anyone who has died or been seriously harmed by making due like this.

      And, very likely, work offers a phone, a computer and there is likely a radio, too, plus your personal technology devices to entertain and, hopefully, for educating. And, of course, there would be heat, running water, toilets and possibly snack food machines (a lot of us would be better off if we skipped some meals). Not so bad, really.

      Indeed, when bad weather strikes, stay off the roads until they are passable unless one is responsible for the care of another (animal or person) or is involved in providing a truly essential service: police, fire, medical care, road cleaing, power restoration, water operations, public transportation, etc. If this were done, the reduction in cars and people commuting would go far toward reducing the hassles and delays.

      • Katie

        Talk about tunnel vision.

        There were nursing mothers stuck on the GW parkway. People who are primary caregivers to elderly parents or small children. Pets who need food and to go out to poop and pee.

    • GeorgeOrwell

      at your desk? would it be better than the experience you endured? I don’t know.

  • SinSA

    My company emailed everyone at 3:45 yesterday to say “The office is closing now.” No warning, no indication prior to that email that we would get to leave early (because my employer, of course, doesn’t want to lose money). We are frowned upon here (on my team) if we want to take our LUNCH, much less leave work early. I get dirty looks when I ask to take a vacation day. So you can imagine the condescending attitude I would have gotten asking to leave earlier, when I only live in Arlington. Would it have been nice for them to say “At noon today, we will be closing to ensure that all of you will be able to get home safely?” Yes. They failed. And today, they are paying for it because there are very few people here since they have all decided to take the leave that was offered to them via email late last night (some of my coworkers didn’t get home until midnight last night. I was lucky I got home at 9) Hopefully this is a lesson to this area to, I don’t know, pay attention to weather patterns and plan better so we don’t have a situation like the GW parkway debacle. It’s definitely a lesson to me to say “F them, I’m leaving before it gets stupid outside” (and now I feel a sense of freedom to take a vacation day if I want to with no guilt from my bosses)

  • 4Arl

    It is easy to say that employees could have asked supervisors to leave. But one can always ask, snowing or not. If you don’t close the location, you put employees in a bind, choose your safety or that of your coworkers. In practice, unless you have good management or a union, this can mean those in favor with management leave early and everyone else stays.

  • Katie

    ArlNow, do you have the name of the Metrobus supervisor in charge of customer service for the 16 buses?

  • Katie

    Ah, found someone on LinkedIn.

  • Single and Not Helpless

    Since when does being a single woman mean i don’t have the resources or common sense to take care of myself? I am certain the County Manager, VDOT or the weather person is to blame. Take responsibillity for yourself, think ahead and do the right thing. COMMON SENSE

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